City preserves St. James Community Square

February 12, 2016 | Arts and Culture

The City of Vancouver has finalized the purchase of St. James Community Square to ensure community ownership of the facility and its continuation as a cultural community asset and thriving space for all ages.

In September 2015, Council approved the acquisition of 3214 W. 10th Ave from the Trinity United Church at a cost of $6.8M through the Property Endowment Fund. The deal closed yesterday. The City is also ensuring that this venue is available for ongoing community use by negotiating a lease/operating agreement with the St. James Community Square Society to maintain the existing and future uses of the building.

“This is great news that the well-used and much loved St. James Square will continue to operate as a community hub providing vital space to local non-profit and community organizations for meetings, performances, cultural and special events,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Although many major cities face similar challenges with high land prices and lack of available spaces, Council has identified the need for the City to be proactive in preserving Vancouver’s arts and culture spaces and resources for community benefit.”

“The Board and the users of St. James are over the moon with happiness and gratitude that our beloved Square has been preserved for the community,” said Mel Lehan, St. James Community Square, Board Co-Chair.  “Now the residents of our neighbourhood and of all Vancouver can continue to enjoy this wonderful community space for cultural, social, recreational, and educational activities into the future."

The lease agreement will allow the Society to continue delivering programs for 20 years, with two options to renew for a further term of five years each. Rent of $100,000 per year will be paid by the Society for the first three years, with an inflation adjustment for each year of the remaining term.

St. James Community Square - Background:

The non-profit Society has been operating and maintaining the Square as a community resource for 21 years — providing affordable facilities for various community uses including: child care (25 spaces), Japanese  language preschool (20 spaces), gymnastics and sport programs for youth, music lessons, art classes, support groups, Vancouver Youth Symphony, and regular musical performances by Rogue Folk Club and other presenters.

In addition to seasonal visual arts programs, and rehearsals and auditions by the arts community – 12 cultural groups consistently use the space for rehearsals, performances and office space. The St. James Community Square model of operation is unique and compliments and works with other City facilities and service providers. The 18,000 square foot building hosts approximately 500,000 user visits per year and there are about 5,000 people registered in or regularly attending one or more programs a week. 

For more details on St. James Community Square and upcoming programs and activities: http://sjcommunitysquare.org/